“I am now handing out the exams, do not start until I tell you to do so. Please keep the exams face down. Please remove all items except pens, pencils, or erasers,” the professor states. The students shuffle papers away and clear their desks. They appear anxious to begin.
“It is now 8 o’clock, you may all begin. You have till 8:50, that is, 50 minutes.”
The students flip to the first page of the exam. Some brows begin to sweat and furrow, a few pencils tap, some pensively stare at the ceiling, while others feverishly type on their calculators. Nevertheless, there are always a collection of students that look like a seasoned runner: focused, steadfast, stressed but remaining calm, and diligently working toward the prize. That determined look espouses confidence even if the student themselves do not feel that way!
Question: Where does that confidence come from?
Short Answer: Preparation.
Long Answer: It stems from an investment of time learning the subtle nuances of the material. It comes from working problems and understanding their extensions. It comes from handling the frustrating moments of “I don’t get this” that, through hard-work, transforms into “ah-hah” moments. Understanding often comes by the way of 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
This means that when the exams do come the diligent student draws from understood material. They pull it from their banks of knowledge that have been seasoned through time and hard work. That’s what comes to mind. That is what brings forth an air of confidence to face the exam.
In the heat of battle or the exams of life what comes to your mind? Vile thoughts? Empty thoughts? Despairing thoughts? Self-righteous thoughts? Righteous thoughts? Noble thoughts? Godly thoughts?
Do you read the scriptures hastily just as a student crams for an exam? Or do you read the scriptures with intention and diligence just as the confident student that prepares? After all, understanding gained hastily dwindles but those that seek it diligently will increase it (Proverbs 13:11-12).
What came to mind when Stephen was about to be stoned in Acts 7? What came to mind when the prophet Isaiah was about to be sawed in two? What came to mind when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were about to be thrown into the furnace? Or Daniel prior to being thrown into the lion’s den? Or when you are singled out for your faith in Jesus Christ? Or the other Christian martyrs of today and yesterdays?
I can tell you what came through their mind: The hope and peace that defies all human understanding in knowing that those in Jesus will overcome death itself and are assured victory in the end (Phil 4:6, 1 Cor 15:55-58).
1. This behavior always baffles me. Especially, since I know that their particular exam doesn’t require any calculator use. I often think, “What are they typing?” This behaviour is similar to going to work on a house with a wild chain-saw when you are tasked to work on a plumbing system!
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